‘Yaa-Baa’ Bust in Tachilek-Shan

About 2 million amphetamine pills and 1 million kyat (US $1,000) in cash were seized from a 10-wheel truck on March 8 by the Burmese authorities in Tachilek Township, near the Thai-Burmese border, according to a policeman in Tachilek who spoke to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

“We found two small oil barrels hidden beneath the body of the truck,” he said. “We were suspicious and searched them. We found the pills inside them.”

The policeman said that the truck had been driven from Kengtung Township in Shan State, some 105 kilometers (66 miles) north of Tachilek. The truck driver was arrested, but his colleague escaped by running away. The truck is reportedly owned by a Shan ethnic woman who lives in Tachilek.

The policeman said he believed that the truck brought the amphetamines from Kengtung to store at her house in Tachilek for distribution.

The pills were seized at a checkpoint in Mae Yan village, at the northern entrance to Tachilek.

Tachilek sits on the Thai-Burmese border in Shan State and is known to be the crossing point for the majority of amphetamine pills (known in Thai as “yaa-baa”) into Thailand. The drugs are reportedly manufactured and distributed by various armed ceasefire groups in Shan State.

On November 17, Burmese authorities seized 50,000 tablets at the Nine Stars Hotel in Tachilek, while last week Thai authorities confiscated an amphetamine-manufacturing machine in Mai Sai, on the Thai side of the border.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) is the most renowned opium and drug producer in the region and several of its leaders are on the United States’ wanted list as drug traffickers.

The UWSA allegedly continues to produce large amounts of amphetamine pills, and Burma remains the largest source of the drug in Asia, according to the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Last week, authorities in Tachilek Township issued a warrant for arrest of Naw Kham, a alleged Shan drug lord who is also wanted in China, Laos and Thailand.

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